Thursday, May 28, 2009

String Legacy

My musical career really began aged 6 or 7 when I first encountered the violin.  I remember quite vividly my first Skylark violin; it made quite a squeaky noise and its quality was no doubt the catalyst for many parents prohibiting their offspring from taking their instrumental career any further.

Luckily for me though, my parents persevered with the questionable sound and my string playing eventually led me to playing both violin and viola with orchestras and quartets at school and outside of school.  However, as my singing career became more dominant, my chances of playing became less and less and eventually I stopped playing both instruments and concentrated on the singing.

Recently I brought my instruments (which I’ve had for about 20 odd years) down to London as I wanted the opportunity to pick things back up and show the girls what fun stringed instruments were.  Lauren in particular was fascinated.  However, after a few attempts at playing the instruments, I realised that all those years in storage had affected both the bow and the instrument as the sound didn’t ring quite true.

Last Tuesday, I accidentally found a violin shop in Ealing whilst on a quest to get some sushi.  Sadly, the sushi shop was just closing as I got there so I decided to investigate the violin shop instead.  After a conversation with one of the staff members, I decided to bring my instruments back to the shop this week for examination, a valuation and an overhaul if necessary.

Luckily for me, the owner was on the premises when I got there and he examined my violin and viola with the kind of attention to detail and knowledge that marked him out to be a real pro.  After playing strings for many years, I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about violins and violas, but my knowledge was trivia compared to his depth of knowledge.  He makes and restores instruments and actually knew the man who had made my viola, which impressed me no end.

I had been right in thinking that both instruments and bows need a little bit of work to get them back to a good standard, but he reassured me that these were not overly complex as the instruments were in very good condition and structurally sound.

However, when he gave me a rough valuation for my instruments I nearly fainted.  They were worth much more than I had expected, even taking into consideration that I have owned them for 20 years.

Once restored, I will definitely be taking better care of my instruments and playing them more.  After all, despite having to leave it to one side once the demands of my working life took off, I can definitely say that my musical career brought me a lot of joy and happiness.  The instruments will also be a fantastic legacy for the girls, especially if they decide to follow in Mummy’s footsteps and play strings.

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